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the strict rules and ideas of Aristotle, the greatest part of them will be found imperfect and defective. The saying of that philosopher is therefore wise and applicable to many cases; Demonstrations are not to be expected in all cases, but so far as the subject will admit of them.” But, if we were well acquainted with the nature and essence of the soul, or even its precise method of operation on the body, it is highly probable we could draw from thence evident and undeniable demonstrations of that immortality which we are now asserting; whereas, so long as the mind of man is so little acquainted with its own nature, we must not expect any such.
But that unquenchable thirst of the soul, which we have already mentioned, is a strong proof of its divine nature-a thirst not to be allayed with the impure and turbid waters of any earthly good, or of all worldly enjoyments taken together. It thirsts after the never-failing Fountain of good, according to that saying of the psalmist, As the hart panteth after the water-brooks. It thirsts after a good, invisible, immaterial, and immortal; to the enjoyment whereof the ministry of a body is so far from being absolutely necessary, that it feels itself shut up and confined by that to which it is now united, as by a partition-wall, and groans under the pressure of it. And those souls that are quite insensible of this thirst, are certainly buried in the body, as in the carcass of an impure hog; nor have they so entirely divested themselves of this appetite we have mentioned, nor can they possibly so divest themselves of it, as not to feel it severely to their great misery sooner or later, either when they awake out of their lethargy within the body, or when they are obliged to leave it. To conclude-nobody, I believe, will deny, that we are to form our judgment of the true nature of the hunan mind, not from the sloth and stupidity of the most degenerate and vilest of men, but from the sentiments and fervent desires of the best and wisest of the species.
These sentiments concerning the immortality of the soul in its future existence not only include no impossibility or absurdity in them, but are also every way agreeable to sound reason, wisdom, and virtue, to the divine economy, and the natural wishes and desires of men, Wherefore most nations have with the greatest reason universally
adopted them, and the wisest in all countries and in all ages have cheerfully embraced them; and though they could not confirm them with any argument of irresistible force, yet they felt something within them that corresponded with this doctrine, and always looked upon it as most beautiful and worthy of credit. “Nobody,” says Atticus in Cicero, “shall drive me from the immortality of the soul.” And Seneca's words are, “I took pleasure to inquire into the eternity of the soul, and even indeed to believe it. I resigned myself to so glorious a bope ; for now I begin to despise the remains of a broken constitution, as being to remove into that immensity of time and into the possession of endless ages.” O how much does the soul gain by this removal !
As for you, I doubt not but you will embrace this doctrine, not only as agreeable to reason, but as it is an article of the Christian faith. I only put you in mind to revolve it often within yourselves, and with a serious disposition of mind; for you will find it the strongest incitement to wisdom, good morals, and true piety. Nor can you imagine any thing that will more effectually divert you from a foolish admiration of present and perishing things, and from the allurements and sordid pleasures of this earthly body. Consider, I pray you, how unbecoming it is to make a heaven-born soul, that is to live for ever, a slave to the meanest, vilest, and most trifling things ; and, as it were to thrust down to the kitchen a prince that is obliged to leave his country only for a short time. St. Bernard pathetically addresses himself to the body in favour of the soul, persuading it to treat the latter honourably, not only on account of its dignity, but also for the advantage that will thereby redound to the body itself: “ Thou hast a noble guest, О fesh! a most noble one indeed, and all thy safety depends upon its salvation : it will certainly remember thee for good, if thou serve it well; and when it comes to its Lord, it will put him in mind of thee, and the mighty God himself will come to make thee, who art now a vile body, like unto his glorious one; and, O wretched flesh, be who came in humility and obscurity to redeem souls, will come in great majesty to glorify thee, and every eye shall see him.” Be mindful, therefore, of your better part, and accustom it to think of
its own eternity, always and every where having its eyes fixed upon that world to which it is most nearly related. And thus it will look down, as from on high, on all those things which the world considers as lofty and exalted, and will see them under its feet; and of all the things which are confined within the narrow verge of this present life, it will have nothing to desire and nothing to fear.
LECTURE VI. Of the Happiness of the Life to come. Of all the thoughts of men, there is certainly none that more often occurs to a serious mind that has its own interest at heart, than that to which all others are subordinate and subservient with regard to the intention—the ultimate and most desirable end of all our toils and cares, and even of life itself. And this important thought will the more closely beset the mind, the more sharp-sighted it is in prying into the real torments, the delusive hopes, and the false joys of this our wretched state : which is indeed so miserable, that it can never be sufficiently lamented ; and as for laughter amidst so many sorrows, dangers, and fears, it must be considered as downright madness. Such was the opinion of the wisest of kings: I have said of laughter, says he, It is mad, and of mirth, What doth it? We have, ther pre no cause to be much surprised at the bitter complaints which a grievous weight of afflictions has extorted even from great and good men; nay, it is rather a wonder, if the same causes do not often oblige us to repeat them.
If we look about us, how often are we shocked to observe either the calamities of our country, or the sad disasters of our relations and friends, for whom we have daily occasion to mourn, either as groaning under the pressure of poverty, pining away under languishing diseases, tortured by acute ones, or carried off by death, while we ourselves are in like manner very soon to draw tears from the eyes of others ! Nay, how often are we a burden to ourselves, and groan heavily under afflictions of our own, that press hard upon our estates, our bodies, or our minds! Even those who seem to meet with the fewest and the least in
conveniencies in this life, and dazzle the eyes of spectators with the brightness of a seemingly constant and uniform felicity, besides that they often suffer from secret vexations and cares, which destroy their inward peace and prey upon their distressed hearts, how uncertain, weak, and brittle is that false happiness which appears about them, and when it shines brightest, how easily is it broken to pieces! So that it has been justly said, “They want another felicity to secure that which they are already possessed of.” If, after all, there are some whose minds are hardened against all the forms and appearances of esternal things, and who look down with equal contempt upon all the events of this world, whether of a dreadful or an engaging aspect, even this disposition of mind does not make them happy, nor do they think themselves so. They have still something to make them uneasy, the obseure darkness that overspreads their minds, their ignorance of heavenly things, and the strength of their carnal affections not yet entirely subdued. And though these we are now speaking of are by far the noblest and most beautiful part of the human race, yet if they had not within them that blessed hope of removing hence in a little time to the regions of light, the more severely they feel the straits and afflictions to which their souls are exposed by being shut up in this narrow earthly cottage, so much they certainly would be more miserable tban the rest of mankind.
As oft therefore as we reflect upon these things, we shall find that the whole comes to this one conclusion, “ There is certainly some end." There is, to be sure, some end suited to the nature of man, and worthy of it; some particular, complete, and permanent good; and since we in vain look for it within the narrow verge of this life, and among the many miseries that swarm op it from beginning to end, we must of necessity conclude, that there is certainly some more fruitful country and a more lasting life, to which our felicity is reserved, and into which we shall be received when we remove hence. This is not our rest, nor have we any place of residence here: it is the region of feas and gnats; and while we search for happiness among these mean and perishing things, we are not only sure to be disappointed, but also sure not to escape those miseries which, in great numbers, continually
beset us; so that we may apply to ourselves the saying of the famous artist confined in the island of Crete, and truly say,
“The earth and the sea are shut up against us, and neither of them can favour our escape. The way to heaven is alone open, and this way we will strive to go.
Thus far we have advanced by degrees, and very lately we have discoursed upon the immortality of the soul, to which we have added the resurrection of our earthly body by way of appendix. It remains that we now inquire into the bappiness of the life to come.
Yet, I own, I am almost deterred from entering upon ị this inquiry by the vast obscurity and sublimity of the
subject, which in its nature is such, that we can neither understand it, nor, if we could, can it be expressed in words. The divine apostle, who had some glimpse of this felicity, describes it no otherwise than by his silence, calling the words he heard, unspeakable, and such as it was not lawful for a man to utter. And if he neither could nor would express what he saw, far be it from us boldly to force ourselves into or intrude
what have not seen ; especially as the same apostle, in another place, acquaints us for our future caution, that this was unwarrantably done by some rash and forward persons in bis own time. But since in the sacred archives of this new world, however invisible and unknown to us, we have some maps and descriptions of it suited to our capacity, we are not only allowed to look at them, but, as they were drawn for that very purpose, it would certainly be the greatest ingratitude, as well as the highest negligence in us, not to make some improvement of them. Here however we must remember what a great difference there is between the description of a kingdom in a small and imperfect map, and the extent and beauty of that very kingdom when viewed by the traveller's eye; and how much greater the difference must be between the felicity of that heavenly kingdom to which we are aspiring, and all, even the most striking figurative expressions, taken from the things of this earth, that are used to convey some faint and imperfect notion of it to our minds. What are these things, the false glare and shadows whereof in this earth are pursued with such keen and furious impetuosity -riches, honours, pleasures? All these, in their justest,